Or “Caveat emptor“, as the lawyers say, they do love to show off their Latin don’t they? However you express it, that principle applies when choosing a private detective or investigator, just as much as when buying a second-hand car.
It’s an unfortunate fact that the private detective profession does attract rogue operators. While genuine, honest private investigators constantly battle to raise and maintain professional standards, their efforts are undermined by incompetent, fly-by-night con artists. The reason is simple: The lack of any control over the activities of people who call themselves private detectives operating in the UK. When the present Prime Minister was Home Secretary, she did promise that legislation would be in place by now introducing a registration and licensing system for professional investigators. It is still awaited but no-one is holding their breath!
Having highlighted the need for care in seeking private enquiry agent services leaves the question, “How do you find a private detective in whom you can have confidence?” If someone you get talking to in a pub tells you that he or she is a private detective and can help you, take that offer with a very large pinch of salt!. It is not the way that genuine private detectives obtain their clients and you may well end up being conned out of a considerable amount of your hard earned cash. It will be cash because such people will insist on being paid in cash because cash is untraceable. If you fall for such a person’s wiles, you will almost certainly be asked for cash up-front for expenses. If you are still there, that would be a good time to remember a prior commitment and leave immediately!
Forget men in pubs! Start with the internet. There you will find the websites of the professional bodies which do bring some order into this unregulated profession. Generally speaking a legitimate detective agency, operating ethically and maintaining good professional standards, will be a member of one or other of these bodies or maybe even more than one. EJM Investigations, based in Preston, Lancashire, for example is a member of the World Association of Professional Investigators (WAPI) and the UK Professional Investigation Network (UKPIN).
Those organisations will put you in touch with an investigator in your local area and it will be someone you can trust. If you decide to seek out someone for yourself, membership of one of the professional bodies is something well worth looking out for. If possible a visit to the office of any detective you are considering engaging is a good idea. You’ll get a better idea of the kind of firm they are and how they operate. That should at least help you to satisfy yourself that they do have an established base.